Residents in Portugal get a discount on medicines and tablets and if you look at your prescription in the end column, Encargos, it states the maximum you should pay for them.

We recently ordered 4 packs and the stated price should have been no more than €3.80 but the chemist asked us for €26. When I queried why, I was told that they had not got the generic in stock so they were giving me a ‘named’ brand instead. I decided to wait for the generic and later that day, I was informed that it was now available and the total cost was €1.10. So, they originally wanted to charge me 25 times more than the actual cost. A huge difference and a sneaky way to boost their profits.

On comparing the stated maximum on previous prescriptions against what we were charged and going back 3 years, it appears that this has been standard practice – giving named brands and prices instead of the much cheaper generic.

We have used a number of Farmácias so it is not just one occasion nor just one chemist that this has happened with. Is it because I am an estrangeiro that they thought it would not be noticed? Sadly, they were correct in thinking that until now.

So, before handing in your prescription, check the maximum you should pay and state that you want the generic brand.

Buyer beware – check that your chemist does not use this under-hand practice too.

Pat Allen, Lagos By email

How to lose customers


Myself and husband like our galãos/meia de leites very hot. Our frequently visited cafes know this and have no problem providing such coffees. Even newly visited cafes, when we ask (in Portuguese) for our coffees to be very hot, they happily oblige. However, at a certain coffee shop in Tavira Gran Plaza (mentioning no names, but it isn’t on the ground floor), when given our (warm) coffee, we said that it wasn’t hot enough.

The person behind the counter told us it was. Upon telling them that it was only warm and not hot she proceeded to tell us that it was hot and couldn’t be any hotter or it would spill over the side of the cup! Most cafes use a jug to heat the milk and then pour it into the cup. This cafe heats it straight in the cup. Again, we explained that we would like it hot. After all, we had paid for it. With a look that could kill, she took the cups from us, put them under the heater again and gave them back to us. Yes, they were then very hot. Thank you. But she hadn’t even had the courtesy to wipe away the excess that had (as she said it would!) spilled over the sides. We aren’t awkward people. We just want a hot coffee! So, with an attitude like that, there’s no return for us to that cafe.